Ships to Margaritavilles Quite A Contrast

Comparing Margaritaville in Falmouth, Jamaica at four in the afternoon with Margaritaville in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos at high noon is not exactly like comparing — as Jimmy Buffett himself would say — papayas and mangos.

Nonetheless, it does beg a question…

What was Jimmy thinking?

In our family, which has two "parrotheads" and at least a couple who are on the verge, it's almost sacrilegious to question this Pirate Past Sixty. Do so at your own peril. However, having stricken two more of his 35 restaurants from our personal Buffett List, the one on the dock of the bay in Jamaica left us wondering.

Margaritaville-FalmouthIt's a great layout, maybe the best of the eight or so we've seen, and its accessible to Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, which drop by once a week with 6,000 or so potential parrotheads. It has an open-air restaurant accompanied by a bar, plus a pool with a swim-up bar, plus the inevitable gift shop, plus a pleasant pathway that link them all.

The day we were there the only thing missing was a crowd.

Granted, Allure was 90 minutes away from "all aboard," so many passengers were already back on the ship by 4 p.m. But we were told Margaritaville wasn't busy at all — "Everybody stayed on the ship to watch the World Cup" — and that it's only open when a cruise ship arrives, which is two or three times a week. There's even a three-story building that apparently was going to be a hotel (at a cruise port?) but now is destined to house, among other things, a British pub.

Now there's a match for you…mushy peas and margaritas.

Margaritavillew-Grand TurkEnter Grand Turk. This is Carnival country, and that Margaritaville is about the same distance from the Freedom as the one in Falmouth was from the Allure. The Freedom, we should add, carries half as many people as the Allure…and this place was jumping. There were people everywhere, in the restaurant, the bar, the pool…especially the pool. It was hard to see the water for the flesh.

It was so busy — this was at 12 noon — that it was hard to get a sense of the complex's layout. The music was loud and not much came from the Cheeseburger in Paradise and Fins playbook, but lots of reggae, mon, and some pop that had everybody from waiters to drinkers to bathers singing along. Karaoke, yes, but not the Jimmy song Too Drunk To Karaoke even if some of the patrons were.

Yes, at noon.

In both restaurants, the food was good, the prices were up there and the service was, well, laid back at best. Now we all know Jimmy Buffett doesn't go barefoot because he can't afford socks, but if Jolly Mon Sing is an appropriate lyric in Grand Turk, then in Falmouth the most fitting lyric just might be Wasting Away in…Jamaica.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Silversea set for spectacular 2016 Odyssey

Carnival Conquest
7 nights
July 27, 2014
Miami (return): CozumelBelizeRoatanCosta Maya
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

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